Dengue: What You Know About it Can Save a Life

dengue causing female mosquito

Dengue has been one of the most feared viral diseases in the Philippines. It has caused thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths every year, especially during the rainy season.

This disease spreads fast through mosquito bites. And sometimes, they may be mistaken for flu. In severe cases, this disease might lead to shock and death.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported 106,630 cases from January to June 2019, with 456 deaths. This led the DOH to declare a national dengue alert. Therefore, we should learn how to deal with this disease.

This disease has severe and non-severe serotypes. However, we can easily deal with it. This way, we can prevent it from claiming lives.

Characteristics

Dengue is a vector-borne disease in the Flaviviridae family.

This disease has four serotypes (DENV1, DENV2, DENV3, and DENV4). Recovering from one serotype makes you immune from it. But being infected by other serotypes might lead to severe dengue, which may cause death.

Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and sometimes Ae. albopictus mosquitoes, carry this disease. They feed at daytime, especially after sunrise and before sunset.

This disease is not contagious. This means that you can’t directly spread this disease to others. But a person with dengue can infect other mosquitoes that carry the disease and bite other people.

This disease is endemic in 100 countries according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It greatly affects people in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific Islands.

Classification of Dengue Cases and Symptoms

According to the DOH, dengue fever can be classified into three kinds of cases: (1) without warning signs, (2) with warning signs, and (3) severe.

Dengue without warning signs

This category has three subcategories: (1) suspect, (2) probable, and (3) confirmed. Classifying a case depends on the onset of the disease.

Suspect dengue. If you’re suspected of having dengue, you may have a 40°C fever lasting from one to seven days. You also need to watch out for at least two these symptoms:

  • headache
  • bodily discomfort
  • pain behind the eyes
  • muscle pain
  • vomiting
  • rash
  • nausea

Probable dengue. If you continue to develop these symptoms, it’s time to send yourself to the laboratory.

An NS-1 antigen test, a complete blood count (CBC), and dengue IgM antibody test will help determine if a person is infected or not. These tests detect early if you have dengue through the presence of proteins and antibodies (NS-1 and IgM tests) and platelet counts (CBC).

Confirmed dengue. Finally, you’re confirmed to have dengue when a viral culture is detected in your bloodstream.

Dengue with warning signs

Once your fever decreases, you still need to watch out for symptoms. This is because when they return, you’re at higher risk for severe dengue.

You may have dengue with warning signs if you have a high fever. Also, you need to pay attention to these symptoms:

  • body tenderness
  • abdominal pain
  • decreased platelet counts
  • restlessness
  • bleeding
  • vomiting, especially with blood

Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor once these symptoms continue.

Severe dengue

Severe dengue, if left untreated, may cause death. This is characterized by plasma leakage, bleeding, and organ damage.

Severe dengue may develop 24 to 48 hours after your body temperature develops. Its indicators include shock due to plasma leakage. Also, fluid may increase in your lungs.

Dengue Infection Phases

This disease has three infection phases: the (1) febrile phase, the (2) critical phase, and the (3) recovery phase.

Febrile phase

You’re in the febrile phase of when you develop a high fever after an incubation period of 4-10 days after a mosquito bite.

During this phase, you need to monitor signs and symptoms for suspect dengue. Furthermore, you may also consider having your blood tested. This way, you’ll know from your platelet count if you might have dengue.

Critical phase

The critical phase of this disease begins when your fever subsides. The next thing that you need to do is to watch out if symptoms return, especially for 24 to 48 hours.

You need to watch out for warning signs that develop even after the fever goes down. If these symptoms occur, you might have severe dengue. As such, you need to seek treatment.

Recovery phase

Finally, the recovery phase begins in 48 to 72 hours after your body fluids return to normal. As you enter this phase, your body generally improves. But you may develop a rash, giving your skin “white spots” on a generally red surface.

Treatment

If you have dengue, you need to take medicines. You need to take paracetamol to ease the pain that fever brings. However, aspirin and ibuprofen are not recommended because they increase the risk of bleeding.

You also need to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water helps prevent dehydration.

While you’re still sick, you need to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Therefore, it will be best for you to wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants while you still have a fever.

Finally, you need to seek medical help if symptoms continue to worsen.

Prevention

We can prevent dengue from infecting ourselves and our loved ones. To decrease the risk of infection, we need to pay attention to our surroundings, protect ourselves, and consult doctors.

Environmental management

One of the ways to prevent this disease is managing the environment where we live. As such, we need to look for possible breeding places for mosquitoes and clean them from time to time.

An important thing to take note is that mosquitoes breed in places that hold stagnant water. Therefore, these are areas that you need to watch out, especially within your home. Here are things that you can do:

  • Replace water in flower vases every week.
  • Cover water pails that you don’t use.
  • Put holes on rubber tires.
  • Clean and unclog rain gutters.

Besides, some communities that are considered hotspots also conduct spraying operations. These communities should only conduct such activities only when cases are recorded for two consecutive weeks.

fumigation for prevention of dengue

Self-protection

Self-protection is important in preventing mosquito bites. This is important, especially when you go to areas wherein there are outbreaks.

During the day, you may put insect repellants on your body. Also, you may consider wearing long-sleeved dresses and long pants so that your skin won’t be exposed.

You may also consider putting a mosquito net around your bed to protect yourself at night.

Seeking early treatment

Dengue can be treated effectively if you seek medical attention the soonest you develop symptoms.

The DOH recommends that you consult a doctor once you have a fever for two days and a skin rash. This way, you’ll better monitor this disease and prevent complications.

Conclusion: Warnings about Dengue

Dengue is a dangerous disease even fatal, but it can be prevented. Recognizing the symptoms and phases of dengue is important in ensuring that you or your loved ones won’t suffer from its complications.

Likewise, you can prevent this disease by keeping an eye on the environment where you live. Remember to keep yourselves safe.

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